Vize was not having a very good morning.
He knew that convincing Anita and Faina to accept his new ideas for the show wasn't easy, but surely even they could see that this one was brilliant. Not only that, but their little rented theater was cramped and expensive, and this idea would make them enough money to get out - surely they wouldn't refuse a chance like that just out of spite.
Unfortunately, Vize was wrong. Or, as he liked to put it, he'd overestimated the girls' good sense.
"Have you lost your mind, Vize?"
"You're dreaming if you think that's ever going to happen, you know."
Vize sighed. "Look, girls, I'm trying to do what's best for the act here-"
"Yeah, right, you little pervert," Faina snapped.
"It's true! Besides, it's not like I just made this stuff up - I really heard it from someone!"
"I don't care who you heard it from, I'm not doing it! Moons, I don't even want to think about where her lips have been-"
"Careful, Faina," Anita interrupted, glaring at her. "We're on the same side here, remember?"
"Well, it's true," Faina muttered under her breath.
If Anita had heard her, she made no sign of it. "Are you sure you're not mistaking someone's drunken fantasies for a real rumor, Vize?" she asked pointedly. "It wouldn't be the first time you made that mistake, you know."
"That... that was an accident! This was a reliable source!" he lied quickly. So he had heard it from a drunk in the local bar - why did they have to doubt him all the time, anyway?
"I wouldn't call any of your acquaintances reliable," Anita retorted smoothly. "Although I have to admit it would be interesting if it turned out to be true. If those girls aren't interested in dear Vyse, maybe he needs a friendly shoulder to cry on..."
Faina snorted. "You're as crazy as he is," she said coldly. "And so what if some idiot really said it? It probably isn't even true!"
"So what!? You're both missing the entire point of what we're doing here, do you know that?" Vize stood up and stared down at her, hoping to cow her - it had never worked before, but there was a first time for everything. "We're not here to show people everything that the Blue Rogues are doing all the time! Do you have any idea how boring that would be? No, we're here to spice up the audience's mundane lives by catering to what they think those guys are doing! What matters is that apparently someone out there thinks that someone else saw Aika and Fina kissing, and if we're gonna keep our audience interested we've got to give them what they want!"
"Oh, that is unbelievably pathetic," Faina said, rolling her eyes.
"No, you're pathetic! You're the ones who don't get it! We could be superstars - we could make enough money to get out of this town and buy our own theater-ship! We could take this act all over Arcadia, and all you girls would have to do is take one little risk! Is that too much to ask?"
"Vize, for the last time-"
"Wait a minute, Faina," Anita interrupted, smiling slyly like a cat. "Maybe Vize actually has a point this time."
"Damn it, Anita, I thought we were on the same side for once," Faina hissed.
Vize thought for a second that he saw Anita wink, but her face was half-turned away and he couldn't be sure it wasn't his imagination. "Well, maybe our 'captain' actually has a good argument for once. That theater-ship does sound like a wonderful idea, doesn't it?" Anita chuckled. "Come on, let's try it. Just for a few shows - we'll make plenty of money before they get tired of it. And the audience will be pleased, and they'll keep coming back, because they'll want to see what we come up with next."
"Well..." Faina finally shook her head. "All right, I give up. If you're just gonna take his side, I might as well get it over with."
Vize couldn't believe his ears. Faina had never agreed to anything so quickly before! "Great! I knew you girls would see it my way!"
"Well, anything for fame, I suppose." That time Vize was almost sure he saw Anita winking at Faina, but then again, it probably didn't mean anything. "So, why don't we rehearse a little? Just to make sure, you know?"
Faina sighed and stood up. "Oh, whatever."
"That's the spirit, hon." Anita got up to and walked around the table. "So, Vize, did your friend tell you how they actually kissed? Details are everything, you know...
Vize shook his head. "Um, no," he said, abruptly stumbling over the word.
"Is that so? Pity. Well, I bet it went something like this..." Anita wrapped her arms around Faina, ignoring the blonde's snort of disgust, and slowly leaned in to kiss her.
Oh, man, Vize thought, staring. His eyes were wide open - he was too scared to blink, or else he'd end up missing something. They're gonna do it. Damn, I'm good - I can't believe that actually worked -
Then, at the very last second, Anita turned her head and glared at Vize, who immediately sat up and swallowed and tried to look away. That look on her face was scaring the hell out of him. "So," she said, "you're just thinking of the show, right?"
"Um, well, ah..."
"Faina," Anita continued, "I think we need to give our leader here a few lessons in being professional, don't you?"
Faina smiled the sort of smile that made most of the children who saw it run for cover. "Now that is a good idea!"
"Now, wait a minute, girls... let's not, um..." He trailed off as they got closer - Anita with her eyes blazing fiery red, Faina with that scary evil grin on her face - and then finally did the first intelligent thing he'd done all day. He jumped up, turned around and started running as fast as he could, screaming all the way.
"It's going to be a great day for a race, huh, Fina?"
"Hm?" Fina looked up. "Yes, it certainly is nice out here today."
Aika laughed. "I can't wait to see who wins today. I mean, last time, that one Dhabu with the cute little nose won everything, and I kinda like it when the same person doesn't win all the time, you know?"
Fina was just about to answer as best she could - she didn't really know much about Dhabus - when she heard some shouting from the street. "Aika?" she said, looking around. "Did you hear something?"
"Besides some weirdo screaming like a girl?" Aika nudged Fina and pointed.
Fina watched in surprise as she saw a familiar-looking group running down the street - it was those impersonators that had tried to ruin Vyse's name a couple of years ago. And the oddest thing was, it looked almost like Vize's pants were on fire... "What do you think is going on? Maybe we should help them."
"Um... I don't know," Aika said, taking Fina's hand and squeezing it. "I'm not so sure we want to know what those three are up to. Let's just let them be."